This is a really short analysis of the subject-object dichotomy that Anita Sarkeesian talks about (and other added musings of mine).
Basically the subject is the protagonist, usually a male who acts pro-actively and the game is typically set from their point of view. The object is generally a woman who is a possession (usually stolen property) and who is acted upon. She refers to women as not even people in most games but the ‘ball’ with which the protagonist and his counter-part use to play with; the ‘damsel ball’ in the patriarchal game.
Looking back over the games I play I can actually see her point. Princess Peach or Zelda or Pauline are kind of just excuses for action that feeds into “adolescent male power fantasies.”
This blog piece is just on what I find interesting and I totally agree that there are unrealistic standards and tropes against men in many games but what I’ve realised is that these problems are still male fantasies. Basically what I mean is that women were created to tend to heterosexual male power fantasies and men with their rippling muscles are also male power fantasies, not fantasies for heterosexual women.
I decided to go onto some forums to find out what feedback Sarkeesian’s videos are still receiving. It’s fascinating how people have such different opinions, all of which we assume are correct from our own individual experiences. There was some support for her but many many people are still incredibly upset with this sort of “female supremacist” thinking. In fact, the most common grievance amongst these forum users was that Sarkeesian is blowing things way out of proportion (as women are prone to doing) and that of course more men are gamers and women don’t feel comfortable in gaming environments not because it’s intimidating for them but because men are beings of activity, you know, hunting and fishing and the like because allllll men are into hunting and all women love to bake and darn socks. It’s just nature.
Of course I object to this way of thinking because I know many active women and such huge sweeping generalisations are fraught with counter-arguments. .
This deeply ingrained socially constructed myth of women as fragile objects is just perpetuated by popular culture and even though it makes for interesting study, it is nice to know that there are women and men out there fighting for the equal representation of men and women in gaming.